National Guardian Life Headquarters


ASID Wisconsin

Silver Design Award – Office/Corporate 21,000 to 49,000 SF

Inbusiness Business Commercial Design Awards

Best Renovation – Office


Reimagining the Workplace

Strang’s recent partnership with National Guardian Life Insurance (NGL), encapsulates our forward-thinking design approach. Recognizing early on that a post-COVID workplace would look very different from their current workplace, NGL began working with Strang to start reimagining their workplace.

NGL sought to create a workplace that would foster collaboration and connection for both clients and team members. The goal was to expand work options and offer a balance between in-office and off-site connectivity, mobility, and collaboration. This resulted in a master plan that offered an optimized and flexible work environment that is accommodating of current operations while remaining laser-focused on the future.


Priority Planning

Before designing a space, the first step is to listen to its users. Strang started our work on this project with an extensive review process including the creation of a Departmental & Priorities Survey for all employees. The primary central theme that was extracted was flexibility. NGL staff were enjoying the freedom of working from home and wanted to maintain a certain level of flexibility after the pandemic to continue working from home a few days a week.

Next, we focused on benchmarking, assessment, and analysis of both future space needs and the existing facilities. Facility assessments were conducted that resulted in recommendations for overall accessibility, electrical, HVAC, plumbing, and life safety needs. Departmental spatial needs and headcount projections were used to calculate optimized required floor area projections and address facility space inefficiencies. Facility assessments and space analysis helped define an environment for NGL that would remain comfortable, accessible, and safe for all employees.

The final master plan considered the feedback of both employees and departmental stakeholders. The resulting aesthetic of the building was a professional modern design with clean and simple details. Spaces were well-defined; often using ceiling elements as visual separation cues. Color tones and finishes were warm in nature. Our initial, careful observations led to the design of increased collaboration spaces and an optimized floor plan. With NGL’s collaborative spirit and Strang’s forward-focused approach, this project was representative of the future standard of workplace design.

Natural Design

The project utilized high-performance, desiccant dehumidification and steam humidification systems for critical environmental controls. Premium efficiency, air-cooled chillers allowed for high performance lab cooling. Air-side energy recovery was applied where code-required and expanded where appropriate. The project evaluated the cost/benefit of variable volume fume exhaust systems and ductless fume hoods, with a final determination that VAV fume exhaust would result in favorable financial payback and energy savings, along with certain favorable applications for ductless systems. Additionally, air-side economizers were designed for spaces with significant cooling demands throughout the year.

Arts + Literature Laboratory

Arts + Literature Laboratory Gallery area
Arts + Literature Laboratory interior


Multifunctional and Flexible

The Arts + Literature Laboratory is a community-based art center that seeks to encourage visual, literary, and performing artists to explore and develop their craft. Art + Lit + Lab required a new space to help them foster an inclusive artistic community that connects artists and resources through education and cultural outreach, as well as provide a space to showcase the work of both established and emerging artists and writers.

Our objective was to create a space that could operate in a multitude of ways and provide a welcoming feel for everyone within the community. Art + Lit + Lab needed a functional working environment for the variety of programs and artistic mediums used within the space. This included studio space for artists, a community area, an educational space, and a performance stage. As art is often showcased at Art + Lit + Lab, they also needed to display this art in unique ways.

Because this space required such a multiuse function within a limited space and budget, this design presented certain challenges. Space for textiles, pottery, literature, storytelling, live poetry, music, and other artistic mediums all needed to be included within the design. Art + Lit + Lab is not only a doer space but a learning space and required a design that was multi-use, accessible, easy to convert, and easy to navigate.


Open Up

Strang’s central solution for Art + Lit + Lab’s needs was an open concept, multifunctional space that could be used for a variety of people and events. The first-floor gallery is separated by large 8 ft wide doors that pivot on their center, allowing for the room to be divided or opened up to create even more space, as well as showcase art in an unconventional way. Large windows were utilized not just for their natural light, but to display art and generate interest in those passing by and looking in. The second floor also made use of these windows, bringing in light throughout all areas of the space.

A library, writing center, multiple studio spaces, and an open concept community studio that can be used for a multitude of functions are located on the second floor while the first floor allows for more event and education space as well as gallery options.

Finishes and colors were kept simple and unobtrusive to allow for the focus to remain on the art being displayed. Basic concrete, wood, glass, and matte finish paints were all chosen to help showcase the art as the main story of the space, rather than the design.

Art + Lit + Lab stands out due to its multifunctional nature. It is not just an art gallery, performance space, or classroom–it encompasses a multitude of mediums and communities. This multi-purpose concept is designed to appeal not only to serious professional artists, but also to provide a welcoming atmosphere to any community member, amateur artist, or educational program that would use the space.

Eurofins Food Chemistry Testing

Eurofins office building


One-of-a-Kind Laboratory Design

Laboratory design might look simple—but these complex facilities often place numerous hours of design intent and laboratory protocol behind simple decisions. Finding the right balance between flexibility and efficiency is what makes a project like this sing. Eurofins is the global leader in food, environment, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic product testing. Their recent new Madison headquarters includes 108,000 GSF, high throughput, analytical laboratory space built with this kind of harmony in mind. They play a key part in the consumer food chain, and this laboratory is one of a kind–not just in Madison, but the world.

After outgrowing their previous facility, Eurofins needed a flexible and efficient space created specifically around their unique processes. They are now at home in a right-sized building designed to suit their every need and process. Their new building includes two main chemistry labs over 10,000 SF each with 44, 6-foot fume hoods.


Efficient Sample Analysis

Efficiencies have been designed into every aspect of this project, from sample receipt, prep, and analysis. Functions and processes were previously spread out across multiple floors and wings. Consolidating these areas into two very large labs (some of the largest single lab spaces in contemporary lab planning) allowed for a significant increase in efficiency.

This was especially beneficial to our client, where samples reign supreme. As a company they deal with thousands of samples every day, identifying, logging, and distributing them. Keeping these samples moving through the lab was essential in our design. Our designers worked to create a clear flow through the building from receiving to end. Guided wayfinding also helps lead both samples and employees through the necessary processes in a clear, efficient manner. Now, the samples make their way in a straight line from the loading dock to the laboratory. With the packaging area this close, it maximizes downtime. Saving seconds from the analysis of one sample add up when looking at the vast quantities of samples this company receives.

"I would absolutely recommend working with Strang."

Brent Rozema, Eurofins Food Testing

Mechanical Systems and Solar Array 360 Tour

Eurofins Madison Office 360 Tour

Sustainable Lab Systems

The project utilized high-performance, desiccant dehumidification and steam humidification systems for critical environmental controls. Premium efficiency, air-cooled chillers allowed for high performance lab cooling. Air-side energy recovery was applied where code-required and expanded where appropriate. The project evaluated the cost/benefit of variable volume fume exhaust systems and ductless fume hoods, with a final determination that VAV fume exhaust would result in favorable financial payback and energy savings, along with certain favorable applications for ductless systems. Additionally, air-side economizers were designed for spaces with significant cooling demands throughout the year.

Gebhardt Building

Gebhardt Building


Tale of Two Buildings

The Gebhardt Building, an eight-story mixed-use high-rise in Madison’s emerging East Washington gateway, is really the story of two buildings: The Gebhardt and The Sylvee. The integration of these two buildings on a single site creates not only an iconic performance venue and a public destination, but also provides a mix of retail and office spaces that help support the dense urban fabric of Madison’s isthmus.

This building is a unique design, housing both office space and a music performance venue for Frank Productions. We worked closely with the client to bring out the best of the entertainment space without impacting the quality of the offices.


Regional Redevelopment

The north side of the eight-story high-rise includes 125,000 SF of retail and commercial office space, including Strang’s new Madison office. The building’s south side features The Sylvee, Frank Productions’ new 2,500-person music venue. This 45,000-SF space features VIP suites and is a great addition to the exciting and dynamic music culture of Madison. This project’s mixed-use urban redevelopment is a part of the resurgence of the Capitol East District corridor, long in need of an economic boost.

The Gebhardt building, itself, is primarily an office tower, implementing both materials and forms similar to the surrounding buildings, thereby integrating itself into the fabric of the neighborhood. Ample glazing throughout, especially on the upper four floors of the tower, allows tenants equal access to daylight and views. Many floors enjoy views of both Madison lakes, owing to the unique geography of the isthmus. The first generation of tenants includes many iconic brands, increasing the vibrancy of the neighborhood. This space integrates international brands, like Google and Spaces co-working, with local icons, such as Frank Productions and the Vintage Brewery. Both the general contractor and the design firm (Strang) responsible for the core-and-shell design and construction of the development are also located in the building. The retail functions on the first floor ensure street-level activation throughout the day and into the night.

The result of this creative collaboration between multiple ownership groups and the design team is a unique mixed-use tower that not only vitalizes Madison’s Isthmus through office and retail uses but also provides a musical venue specifically designed for memorable experiences for both artist and patron, alike.

American Family East Regional Building (ERB)

American Family East Regional Building (ERB)


USGBC Sustainability Award Nomination

Award of Merit


LEED gold



Rigorous Renovation

Strang’s work on American Family Insurance’s East Regional Building (ERB) was part of a four-year project based on a 20-year infrastructure improvement plan and 285,000 SF renovation. The largest obstacle in this project was the rigorous schedule which resulted in continuous use of the facility and nearly zero downtime of departments as the renovation progressed. The building accounts for around 850 people with anticipated growth to 1000 people and was seeking to update and renovate its systems to prepare for this expansion.


Designing Efficiency

The HVAC scope of this project included a complete replacement of all four main air handling units serving the office and cafeteria. The new air distribution greatly improved upon the IAQ and thermal comfort. HVAC design also included partial ventilation energy recovery and demand control ventilation strategies. This contributed toward energy cost reduction over the 30% baseline and maximized 10 LEED EA 1.3 credits. Commissioning was completed following the 15 phases of renovations as portions of the project were updated. This project has successfully achieved LEED Gold certification.

The existing gas-fired, hot water boiler plant was retrofitted with new high efficiency condensing dual fuel boilers. Strang also converted the building controls to the American Family Johnson Controls network, transitioning the existing chiller plant controls from the obsolete control system. Finally, the ERB required the replacement of all windows to increase energy efficiency. With Strang’s help, this multi-functional office and training space is now optimized for efficiency.

American Family BL2 Renovation

American Family BL2 Building


Renovation Utilization

American Family Insurance operates within a series of office and support buildings at its national headquarters in Madison, Wisconsin. The corporate cafeteria, known to its employees as BL2, occupies approximately 30,000 SF at the ground level of the “B” building.

The original BL2 cafeteria was designed over 20 years ago as a traditional dining room. The space was highly utilized over the lunch hour but remained nearly empty most of the day due to its overwhelming scale, lack of flexibility, and absence of technology. The renovation goal was to transform BL2 into a destination that promoted well-being and collaboration and increased employee engagement with the space.


Interactive Engagement

The largest zone within BL2 is the dining room. This space is immediately adjacent to the serving station and can accommodate up to 245 users at one time with its mix of standard dining tables, private booths, and community tables. This space is highly functional during dining hours but can also be utilized during off-hours with increased access to electrical power and large plug-and-play monitors.

Residential-feeling lounge furniture is scattered throughout the light-filled sunroom, the active rec room, and the cozy library. This helps support casual dining, informal collaboration, and private work. The kitchen is the heart of the space and is supported by two auxiliary micro-kitchens. These spaces increase access to sinks and microwaves while encouraging impromptu interactions and offering a spot to gather.

A mezzanine structure was built within the two-story space to break up the volume and increase the functional area of BL2. The space below the mezzanine is home to The Coffeehouse. Two of BL2’s eight formal meeting rooms occupy the upper level of the mezzanine. The combination of layered ceiling clouds, a warmer color palette, and a natural canopy created by potted trees help bring scale to the space.

Wellness is promoted by offering recharging zones for different personality types. The main dining space is bookended by an active, energetic rec room and a quiet, restful library. A connection to nature is made through the two-story curtain wall overlooking the manicured grounds, a living wall, and the use of natural materials.

The result is a thoughtful mix of dining space, meeting rooms, micro-kitchens, and recreational and quiet spaces which have transformed BL2 from a one-dimensional cafeteria corridor into an enticing destination. This is a welcoming space for many groups, multiplying the reasons for employees wanting to spend time there.

Ho-Chunk Gaming Master Plan

Ho-Chunk Gaming Master Plan Rendering


Entertainment Destination

The goal of this project was to create a casino/hotel/convention center campus that would serve as a cultural and entertainment destination. The design vision was decidedly modern and forward-looking. The design of this project reflects the historic importance of gaming in Ho-Chunk culture and celebrates the Ho-Chunk tradition of gracious hospitality. Outdoor dining and activity areas as well as a large outdoor event space extend the visitor experience to the surrounding natural landscape.

This site master plan for the 47-acre parcel surrounding the existing Ho-Chunk Gaming facility will serve as a destination entertainment district for the Greater Capital Region. The plan includes an expanded casino and a new hotel/conference center, heritage center, regional sports complex, restaurants, retail space, and other entertainment. The objective is to create a vibrant and unique place in which social and physical connectivity is strengthened, environmental sustainability is prioritized, and Ho-Chunk culture and heritage are celebrated.


Cultural Celebration

The proposed Heritage Center is designed to fulfill the goal of sharing, preserving, and celebrating the stories of the Ho-Chunk nation, who have made the Madison area, the “Four Lakes” region, their home for thousands of years. The architecture of the proposed Heritage Center was designed to create a timeless context for celebrating and honoring the culture and history of the Ho-Chunk people.

The site and landscape design involve deliberate sculpting of the land to define and create space. This includes defining the Great Circle, berming to screen the parking structures, creating view corridors, and referencing Ho-Chunk heritage through the tradition of mound-building. Circles are important in Ho-Chunk culture as the form of their gathering spaces, and this is reflected in the Great Circle and the Great Room of the Heritage Center. The Great Circle is a large circular lawn-covered green space that will be the venue for celebrations and performances. On axis with the Great Circle is a large overhead garage door that opens the Conference Center to the outside, creating a stage for performances and celebrations. The existing wetland on the site would be restored and a surrounding prairie and oak savanna would feature interpretive walking paths. The buildings—except the heritage center, which would be set off from other facilities—are designed to seem like one large structure with strong complementary architecture.

Specifically, the master plan includes:

Ho-Chunk plans to build the district in phases, beginning with the expansion of the existing casino and the addition of a hotel with restaurants, a conference center, and structured parking. The second phase would include the development of the heritage center and sports complex.

The Sylvee

The Sylvee


Best of Madison 2020 Readers Poll by Madison Magazine

Best Live Music Venue and Best Performance Venue


InBusiness Commercial Design Awards


American Society of Interior Design (ASID)

Silver Design Excellence Award for Contract – Entertainment/ Recreation


InBusiness Commercial Design Awards



World-Class Music

The Sylvee is owned by Frank Productions, a family business, and a cornerstone of the Madison community for more than 50 years. Strang designers worked closely with the family to assure The Sylvee accurately reflects the legacy of Herb and Sylvia Frank. The venue, which resides in the Gebhardt Building, is a 40,000-SF 2,500-person music hall designed to meet the strong and lasting demand for world-class live music in Madison by attracting the nation’s biggest acts.


Creating Exceptional Experiences

Designed for music from the ground-up, this theater has the amenities and robust, state-of-the-art infrastructure of a world-class live music venue. The open three-story space ensures that no patron is more than 85 feet from the stage and maximizes sight lines no matter where one is standing.

In order to attract the biggest acts to Madison, the design team placed a significant focus on creating the most positive experience for the artists and their crews through strategic space planning. The loading dock and stage are immediately adjacent to each other, and the straight shot facilitates easy set-up and tear-down. The lighting grid above the stage can support over 100,000lbs, easily accommodating even the most elaborate lighting trusses, which is unique for a theater of this size. Similarly, for the artists themselves, the green room and dressing rooms are immediately accessible from the loading dock.

Planning for convenience was not limited to the back-of-house. The main public entrance to the theater is located on the opposite side of the building from the stairs and restrooms, in order to encourage people to disperse upon entry rather than congregating immediately inside the doors. The venue can also be pre-loaded before the doors are officially open thanks to an integrated curtain that allows patrons to enter the venue and access merchandise, coat check, the bar, and restrooms.

U.S. Geological Survey WMA Office

U.S. Geological Survey WMA Office


IIDA Wisconsin

Award of Excellence - Work under 5,000 SF


Fresh Fit-Out

When the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Water Mission Area (WMA) moved across town to the USDA Forest Products Lab building, they partnered with Strang to renovate the old, outdated 3rd floor into a fresh and collaborative space.

The USGS’s goal was to fit the space out to make it as comfortable and healthy for staff as possible. This project started at the beginning of the COVID pandemic, so health concerns were as important as giving staff a physically comfortable space. The USGS also sought to use this office space as a place to celebrate sustainability, local materials, and the outdoors—all things that are at the core of their organization. Finally, this space needed to fit multiple work styles within a small area. Technology, collaboration zones and acoustical planning were all important elements to creating a productive space.


Health and Wellbeing

Concern for the comfortability, health, and wellbeing of their employees was at the forefront of this design. One example is outside air exchange system. This allows for a quicker exchange of fresh air which helps keep the space’s air clean and allows easier breathing. To further address COVID concerns, workspaces were also placed at 120-degree desk clusters and removable acrylics barriers were placed between desks. These can be easily removed later to further increase the open office feel.

people working in the USGS offices

Collaborative Planning

A main challenge of this space was its small square footage. The USGS has multiple offices throughout the US they work and communicate with. Employees required the ability to work (and use visual and audio technology) from multiple locations within the small office. Strang designed multiple areas to meet this need, including the standard office desks, a “kitchen” gathering area, a small collaboration zone in the middle of the office, and a larger collaboration zone at the back wall.

With so many employees required to fit into the small space, proper acoustics was also a top priority. Strang ended up designing the space for employees to have easy communication with neighbors, while retaining the ability for private conversations. Acoustical panel ceiling clouds were hung throughout the space and felt acoustic hung panels served double purpose as an interesting visual with their decorative laser cut design. A white noise sound masking system was also installed in the space. These devices hung around the office help control background noise by emitting a frequency similar to human speech, leading to greater speech privacy.

Creating Sustainability

The scientists of the USGS study the landscape of the United States, its natural resources, and the natural hazards that threaten it—sustainability and the outdoors are integral values of their organization. Strang celebrated these ideals through the use of natural and sustainable materials as much as possible. This included using linoleum floor tiles (instead of luxury vinyl tiles) and custom work tops from the local Menominee Tribal Enterprises for desks and conference room tables.

The use of wood is also a strong feature throughout the space. These wood accent walls are not only visually appealing but are used to hold acoustic panels. They also serve as a workable surface to tack things up. Further cementing the biophilic design, plants are abundant throughout the space. Lastly, a digital “whiteboard” was added to an entire wall using a greyscale satellite image of the Yukon Territory from the USGS’s own photo cache as a background. This impactful image, wood accents, sustainable materials, and the incorporation of water blues and forest greens throughout the space all celebrate the ethos of the USGS and their connection to nature.

USGS National Wildlife Health Center Master Plan & Space Planning Modernization Study

U.S. Geological Survey WMA Office render


In Modernization

In support of USGS goals, Strang was contracted to study the feasibility of consolidating the various USGS entities and programs in the Madison, Wisconsin area onto property already owned by the USGS and currently occupied by the National Wildlife Health Center (NWSHC). The Strang team reviewed and validated the National Wildlife Health Center modernization study while developing multiple approaches for their space planning program over the next 10-15 years.

The key goals of the USGS Madison Consolidation Feasibility Study were to:


Phased Planning

Strang has a longstanding relationship with USGS and has been providing guidance on their space planning for over a decade. Strang used planning tools, including guided discussions and workshops to generate three phasing scenario concepts for review and approval by the USGS’s science and facilities staff. This modernization study is intended to supplement the 2016 Master Plan. This study addresses the NWHC’s concerns for providing a complete program and concept design that will meet all campus planning objectives including, but not limited to site utilities capacities, design, parking, vehicle and pedestrian flow, service access, secured access, and storm water management.

Phasing and planning options were developed to assure no adverse impact to ongoing operations, including site utilities and access to, from, and between all facilities. The first phase starts in the current parking lot, nearest to the existing buildings. This allows subsequent construction traffic to be concentrated away from NWHC operations. As the team developed project cost estimates to best suit the phasing needs and funding constraints, the three phased approaches provide USGS and the NWHC with options in selecting a path forward that meets their current need while aligning with funding opportunities.

The space planning study will help USGS and NWHC focus on right sizing the various spaces. The number of labs and holding rooms and the sizes of each have been adjusted based on anticipated program needs. Two major deviations from the previous program were identified. This includes the reclassification of many labs from BSL-3 to BSL-2. The site has been able to push more of the work out of the BSL-3 spaces. To protect against a reversing of this trend and being faced with too little high containment labs, some BSL-2 labs and support spaces were identified to be configured and detailed for conversion to BSL-3. The updated program requirements provide an appropriate increase to the operational area of the NWHC, expanding research capabilities, and verifying ongoing compliance with containment regulations. The program has more flexible lab space and expansion of diagnostic facilities. This space planning study will take USGC through to the next 10-15 years.